Getting smoke-screened by Steve Keim is an uncomfortable feeling. If the NFL Draft was a game of poker, Keim has sat down and largely declared how many pairs he had before each hand was bet the last few years.
This year in part because the Cardinals are drafting at #23, there’s not a lot of consensus on who or what the Cardinals are targeting.
Today, I want to focus on which prospects the Cardinals should trade up for. This year might have more trade up opportunities than any other year I can remember. With a lack of high end quarterback prospects combined with a fat middle class of prospects, more teams will probably be looking to trade down and few teams could be looking to trade up.
If that’s true, it could create an opportunity for the Cardinals to trade up without having to give up more than this year’s 3rd rounder, which I would 100% support.
If the Cardinals can trade up without giving up a (god forbid) future first rounder or this year’s 55th overall pick in the 2nd round, its a move Steve Keim should make.
Consolidating draft picks and emerging with a two blue chip prospects sounds like a better recipe for draft success than Steve Keim hoarding picks and taking quantity over quality.
Which players would make sense for the Cardinals to trade up to land?
Here’s how I’d rank them:
5. A top OT
- If Evan Neal, Charles Cross, Ikema Okwonu or Trevor Penning fall, the Cardinals should pounce. Its not an immediate need but tackle could be their biggest need as soon as next offseason. Kelvin Beachum is a band aid at RT but like a good, name brand band aid that keeps doing its job after a few showers. Eventually, he’ll need to be replaced. DJ Humphries is one of the highest paid Cardinals players and plays at an acceptable level but not an irreplaceable one. Landing a future franchise tackle always makes sense if you have a young QB and all four of the above tackles fit that bill. This could be a make good for passing on Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Willis in 2020.
4. Garrett Wilson
- My top criteria for a first round receiver is whether that player can become a WR1 to replace DeAndre Hopkins within the next 2 years. Hopkins will turn 30 this summer, is coming off an injury plagued season is very expensive. He’s also really good but with this quarterback and this head coach, a little bit of long term planning makes a lot of sense at WR. Wilson could be that guy. He has every skill you’d want in a WR2 right now and every chance to become a viable WR 1. He’s a bigger, faster and better version of Christian Kirk.
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux
- Thibodeaux is this year’s mystery rock. He’s dropping and there are ambiguous reasons why. The best I can parse is he doesn’t talk like Dan Campbell and doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe film 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just to be clear, this is far from a Robert Nkemdiche like profile who had several run-ins in college and whose focus was rightly questioned. Thibodeaux could be a plug and play replacement for Chandler Jones and if the rest of the NFL overthinks his talent, the Cardinals shouldn’t overthink trading up and snagging him.
2. Jameson Williams
- As I mentioned with Garrett Wilson, only future WR1’s need apply for trade up consideration. Williams also fits that role but with an added bonus - Williams gives the Cardinals exactly what they need right now in addition to his future potential. Once Williams can take the field again, his speed would be a game changer for the Cardinals offense. Not only could he be a dynamic downfield target for Kyler Murray’s downfield accuracy, he could help clear space for Zach Ertz, Rondale Moore and James Conner on the underneath routes Kliff Kingsbury loves so much.
1. Jordan Davis
- No player solves more problems with the Cardinals in this draft class than Jordan Davis. Davis is a 6’6 340 pound monster who ran a 4.78 40 time at the NFL combine. To put that in perspective, former Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin’s 40 time was 4.71. Davis immediately upgrades the most overlooked weakness of the 2021 Cardinals - their rush defense. Additionally, he makes life easier for JJ Watt and Zach Allen, occupies blockers for Zaven Collins, creates opportunities on the edge for the Cardinals pass rush and even improves the quality of life for Byron Murphy/Budda Baker and the rest of the Cardinals secondary. Jordan Davis is the answer for Steve Keim’s inactive offseason.